The Federal Government Begins Review Of The Construction Of The N130 Billion Second Niger Bridge Across Anambra And Delta States As The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Queries Cost Of The Project
The Federal Government yesterday revealed that work had stopped on the Second Niger Bridge Project to enable it ascertain the exact cost of the project.
This is just as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said it had also withheld the Certificate of Compliance of the project until all grey areas have been cleared by the Works Ministry.
It would be recalled that the Second Niger Bridge was conceived under a Public Private Partnership arrangement, while the contract was awarded to Julius Berger PLC at the cost of N130billion, following the poor state of the aging first bridge
The project was seen as a great relief for people travelling to the South Eastern parts of the country as the old bridge which had been in use since the early 60s is now weak.
But the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Aminu Dikko, told journalists, yestersday at the Presidential Villa that the commission had asked the ministry of works to review and justify the cost of the project.
Dikko who was at the Aso Rock to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the activities and challenges of the commission said the certificate of compliance for the project was also being withheld until all grey areas are cleared, even as he added that “the project is not likely to be completed anytime soon.”
According to him “The second Niger Bridge is one of the projects that we discussed with the President. We did say yes it is in the commission for regulatory oversight.” “We have been discussing the transaction with the ministry of works.
But before it can be finalised, the commissioner has to give a certificate of compliance, but we haven’t given that because we have seen a lot of issues that we are uncomfortable with. We are talking with the ministry of works for them to correct it. “We will also talk about the actual cost of the bridge, eventually we have asked the ministry of works to review it and justify how much the project should cost,” he said .
Dikko further explained that communities were still clamouring for adequate settlement for their land. Onitsha traditional council, he said, had written the commission complaining that they had not been adequately represented in the transaction.
“These kind of issues we are not saying that something has not been done properly but we need to be convinced that these few problems are sorted properly,” he added . Works had reportedly been abandoned at the construction site of the bridge which was flagged off on March 10, 2014 by former President Jonathan.
The project which had been given a timeline of 48 month Measures about 1,590 metres long and forms part of the 11.90 kilometre length project.
The project which was to be executed as a Public Private Partnership, PPP arrangement, would also be managed by the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), the former President had said during a campaign tour in January this year. So far, N10 billion has been spent and, out of it, N1.5 billion was used for paying for damages and others, he had said at the time.
The commission is a regulatory agency, which provides guidance for MDAs on how to structure public private partnerships transactions.
Speaking further, Dikko said the commission briefed the President on its major challenge, the law under which it operates. “ The law that we operate. It is very ineffective” he said adding that the commission has proposed an amendment to the law and the President inturn agreed to support the passing of the bill when returned from the attorney Generals office.
Legacy concession inherited by the commission, was also discussed. The port terminals the one at Lagos International Trade Fair, the one over Tafawa Balewa Square and the Lagos- Ibadan expressway.
We also discussed all the projects that were started under the ICRC act, one of which is the second Niger Bridge, the national theatre complex, Lagos, he said.
The President was also briefed on the 33 existing agricultural silos in the country. The country is also proposing to build three deep sea port for Nigeria with combined estimated cost of about $6billion . “So we are reviewing these proposal, with the ministry of transport and in due course we will come out with a position on that”.
The President in turn directed the commission to involve the state governors in their plans to concession the silos to private owners, to see how best they can encourage their farmers to utilise these silos when they come into effect.
The President also directed that MDAs should ensure that they have adequate funding for development of project in their budgets and if they don’t they should look for alternative ways of getting such funding, rather than expect funds from the ICRC, the DG said.
-Tony Ailemen, Abuja